For the few and the many

Today’s poem for Paul Brookes’ April poetry challenge. You can read all the responses here.


Dark time before the spring

Ellen Best has written a cleave poem on a subject close to my heart. You can read it here. She has prompted me to try to write another one.

The idea of a cleave is to write three poems in one. One half telling one story, the other telling its opposite, and the whole making the complete poem. The two halves ought to be separated physically on the page, but tell that to WP. You’ll have to pretend that the bolded part is on the other side of the page.

It’s something I haven’t done in a long time. Certainly not since the new editor makes formatting it impossible for anyone without a degree in computer technology.

Dark time before the spring

The dark time has come
though sun still pierces briefly autumn soft
and all the leaves are falling
the tree song is changing
no summer birds sing sweet from shady trees
flashing bright with fire-garb bright as laughter
the stream’s voice is loud
remembering spring torrents
where rain has swollen the cords and chords
and the rush of new life
of watervoice coursing to the sea
leaf-dance on meadows red now and wild
the wind has risen in the east, feather-ruffled, ragged-clawed
sweeping like swallows across the rain-damp green
and in the watchful hedge the wild things wait, sniffing
the tang of spring rising from deep roots
the dark night about to fall
gathering all in its eternal arms.

Silence broken

As I sit on this glorious autumn morning of warm sun, I can hear, all around me the sound of gunfire. I defy anyone who is not a completely insensitive brute to listen to the sound of senseless killing and not be angered and sickened by it. A cleave poem for OctPoWriMo’s silence prompt.

A cleave poem is three in one: left side says one thing, right side says its opposite. Read together they make a third poem.



Early morning gold / the shadows lie

thick beneath the trees/ cool and deep­—

autumn settles / with a stealthy rustle,

when the only sound is birdsong/ hunters creep

beneath the wing-fluttered hedge/ deer startle into flight

I hold my breath/ as silence breaks with sharp retorts

and russet flashes, gone / shattered the fragile peace

where wild things go / snapped the thread of life

I watch the silence /as death falls on fallen grace

filling the space of beauty lost/ for some warped and dark delight.

If only

The OctPoWriMo prompt is about things split in two, the parting of ways. Nothing more appropriate than a cleave poem. Dedicated to a special person.


I remember how we longed     when you slammed doors

For the day to come                    the shouting at its peak

When you would decide            it was time to change

To finally go,                                make your own life

And let us breathe.                    You took your courage

In both hands,                            you clutched your dreams

Fistfuls of anger                         let them open with broad wings

Such energy let fly                    carried on the wind

An avalanche of regrets          into the great blue future   

Would things have been          fanned into wild flames

Better than this cold fury        and blossomed

Had we shared our hearts      with their passions unfolded

Doors and windows

A cleave poem for the OctPoWriMo prompt, openings


When a door closes            a window opens

onto a dream                       wide as the world

night falls dark                   sky full of stars

hope trickles                        like grains of sand

through the gaps                 a multitude

between the certitudes      of tomorrows

and settles fathoms deep   where pearls shine

out of reach                           so much wealth

on a forgotten seabed         lighting up the gloom.

It was in the grey of morning

The #OctPoWriMo prompt is about betrayal and the suggested form is a palindrome, in which it reads betrayal one way, forgiveness the other. I don’t think I’m capable of writing a palindrome, but here’s another cleave poem that reads sad/happy.


It was in the grey of morning, birds were singing in the trees

When you left, I heard you go, with the sound of breaking hearts

I closed my eyes against the light, sun was on the brink, rose

Leaching into the grey, with the promise of a soft day.

I should have seen it coming, I see so much ahead,

But the wishing and the wanting, for us, a lifetime not enough,

Veiled the fractures and the flaws. I reach out my hand to touch you,

Too late, your footsteps fading, your face turns to the light,

You will see a different dawn, with a familiar smile,

A future, ocean vast, bright as the glowing sky,

While I refuse the heaped regrets, thoughts circling back to me

To grasp the coming day and the completion of happiness.





Wanting to be happy

For the #OctPoWriMo challenge, on the theme of ‘what do you want’ a cleave poem, sort of contrapuntal poem.



Is the wanting                       to be happy

worth the waiting                 in the end

do I want it,                            like the bird needs to fly,

because it’s there,                  the sky calling.

Does the hand reach out      in the wind

to pluck the only apple         that balances, swaying,

on the tree                               where blackbirds sing

or does the eye                        for the simple joy of it,

treasure the laden branch,  the juice and the joy of it

fluttering-leafed                      to join the song of the wind

with pure life                           in the autumn sky.

Sings the moon

I haven’t done a cleave poem for a long time and thought I was due for a bit of self-inflicted punishment. I’m adding it to the dverse open link night because these poems are so hard to write, and I’m pleased with the way this one turned out.

If you don’t know what a cleave poem is, it’s a three in one poem. Each side is a separate poem to be read vertically, one side dark, the other light, opposites. But they can be  read horizontally as a single poem too.


Loud the city silence                 sings the moon

Breaking glassy fragments      in a sea of darkness

All about                                      the brittle stars blink and listen

I stop my ears                              to the swell tide’s refrain.

Though scraps of anger            ride on peaceful calm,

White or red                                 sails full of dawning

Grow round and full                  like moons on water

Fruiting in the heat                    lily blossoms, reflections

Of a summer night                     in a still forest pool.


Step by step

The Daily Post prompt is: Sidewalk

Photo ©Tomascastelazo


Step by /step echoes on the flags

Head bent low /rain spits in the wind

So it’s hard to see /how the raised face glistens!

The outstretched hand /and the soft voice pleading

Harden your heart  /for there is hope in a smile

When the rain turns to tears /to give is to care

Walk on by /and the sun comes out.